Firm not paid for stalled job at airport
Shaw Construction has sent a breach of contract notice demanding payment from the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority for roughly $1.2 million in completed work on its airport administrative building.
The lack of payment for the contracted work is not only affecting Shaw, but causing hardships to subcontractors that Shaw is paying out of its own pocket, Shaw President Clark Atkinson said.
“It puts us in a terrible spot,” Atkinson said. “This is really hurting small, local businesses. It’s frustrating that they talked about this at a five-hour meeting on Tuesday (June 17), but it’s just not moving fast enough.”
The authority halted construction on the administration building located near the airport’s terminal when the FBI launched a probe into the airport’s handling of federal grants that would have been used to pay for much of the building.
Former aviation director Rex Tippetts, who led the construction project, has been fired and the authority has received word from the U.S. Department of Justice that board members won’t be prosecuted.
Board members have said they cannot pay Shaw Construction until the board receives approval from Jviation Inc., a firm hired to oversee construction. However the airport does not have a contract with that company, and they, too, haven’t been paid.
Airport Authority Chairman Steve Wood said Wednesday that the board cannot pay Shaw’s bill until it receives certification from Jviation. A conference call with authority members and Jviation scheduled for this morning hopefully can clear up the situation, Wood said.
“We’re certainly hopeful of a resolution,” Wood said. “We are trying to be good and faithful stewards … I think I’m safe in speaking unanimously for the board (that) to approve payment without any certification is not responsible.”
Wood said the authority paid the first of four bills to Shaw, and those bills were certified.
The situation is complex and board members are not in control of all the factors surrounding payment to contractors, Wood said.
“I can guarantee this is not happening as quickly as we would like,” he said. “This isn’t a lot of fun.”
Atkinson said he’s been told by Airport Authority members that it has the money to pay, but is holding off on payment because it doesn’t want to stir up any more trouble with federal authorities.
In the meantime, Shaw Construction and its subcontractors are essentially footing the bill, financing a building that belongs to the airport, Atkinson said. A bill for about $835,000 submitted in March should have been paid in April and another bill for $350,000 should have been paid in May, he said.
Atkinson did not give a timeline for when the company might seek further legal action, but he indicated it would be soon if they are not paid.
“If it’s not soon, we will have no other choice but to file a suit,” he said.
Shaw is helping two subcontractors pay their bills after their lines of credit were frozen. Another subcontractor who has been stiffed so far on payment was separately involved last week in a horrible accident and sustained burns to 40 percent of his body.
“We’re going out of our pocket to pay him,” Atkinson said. “This is the last thing he needs to worry about with a professional business to run.”
Atkinson said his company is helping out to ensure those businesses don’t go under, but also because it’s the right thing to do. About 75 percent of the total $1.2 million owed to Shaw is money the company, in turn, owes to subcontractors, Atkinson said.
“We’re trying to do what’s right for the community, and we’re trying to give the Airport Authority good counsel,” Atkinson said. “We don’t want to cause problems and sue anybody, but we want them to fulfill their obligation.”